BMW calls the 2006 version of its flagship 7 Series sedan a midsize freshening rather than a redesign. This year's revisions emphasize engineering and technical details, design refinements and ever-greater luxury features. Launched as a 2002 model, the current-generation 7 Series has been available in two forms: as the 745 with a V-8 engine and as the 760 with V-12 power.
The 2006 V-8-powered 7 Series gets a new 360-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 that replaces the prior 325-hp, 4.4-liter V-8; that's prompted a model-number change from 745 to 750. As before, two wheelbases are available: regular length, called the 750i; and extended length, named the 750Li. All 7 Series sedans have been launched as early 2006 models.
BMW refined its iDrive control system, which has been the subject of criticism, and made it easier to use for 2006. Changes to iDrive include new menu color schemes, enhanced functionality and a reshaped controller.
Design revisions include a new power dome hood and a modified twin-kidney grille. All models now have the same enlarged grille. Rear track width has been increased, and interiors now feature American Walnut wood trim.
BMW's regular-length 750i sedan is built on a 117.7-inch wheelbase, versus a 123.2-inch version on the extended-length 750Li sedan. BMW says the front-end modifications for 2006 have been "executed with the utmost reserve and subtlety." In addition to the reshaped hood, the 750 has reshaped rocker panels with pronounced ridges, fresh lighting clusters, and a reworked front bumper and spoiler. The extended-wheelbase 750Li sedan has a chrome roof molding.
The trunk lid, taillamp clusters, rear bumper and spoiler have been modified. The rear bumper's wraparound portion tucks in more noticeably than before, and the taillamps now wrap into the reshaped trunk lid. All models now have chrome trim on the bumpers. Suspension bushings have been refined.
Up to five occupants can fit easily inside the 750i, and passengers in the backseat of the 750Li get even more legroom.
Detail trim elements have a metallic look. A flat-tire warning and a 10-speaker audio system are now standard. New controls are used for AM/FM radio selection. Bluetooth connectivity is new, and BMW eliminated the cell phone. The Adaptive Ride Package includes Electronic Damping Control and a self-leveling rear air suspension.
Under the Hood
The 750's new 4.8-liter V-8 develops 360 hp at 6,300 rpm and 360 pounds-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. A six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission has its selector positioned just ahead of the steering-wheel rim. A steering-wheel button selects Drive, Sport or Manual shift mode. Shift buttons at the front and back of the steering wheel can be used to execute manual gear changes.
BMW's inflatable tubular Head Protection System includes first- and second-row side curtain-type airbags. Front-seat side-impact airbags are installed, and rear side-impact airbags are optional. Active Knee Protection is standard. Active Cruise Control that uses a radar sensor is optional.